Sex work and burnout

I was contacted recently by a woman who has had a good but ultimately disappointing experience with using the services of sex workers. She was interested to know what I thought about the problem of “burnout” in sex workers as she has lost two sex workers that she has been seeing to them leaving the industry due to burnout.

There are a few ways to look at this. From the point of view of the individual sex worker, the client, and the industry as a whole.

I have been working as a male sex worker for women for fourteen years (as of 2024). In all of that time I have not “taken a break” from sex work. This is partly because I love the work, because I am committed to my clients, and lastly because I try to manage myself so that I don’t get burnout.

I think that I probably have more natural inclination to this work than most men, but everyone has limits which we need to respect. One of the traps of sex work is that – if you are successful – the money can be very good. This can drive a sex worker to take every booking that comes along. And that’s great if you have the energy and stamina for both the physical aspects of sex work, but also the emotional aspects.

Most people who see a sex worker – and more so women – aren’t there simply to “have sex” and leave. There’s a reason why my two hour booking is my most popular session – it takes time to relax and connect and be “ready” and then it’s nice to have some after-care and time to unwind and enjoy the “after glow”.

All of that requires that a sex worker be physically and emotionally “present” and to not “check-out” from their client. This is something that I am quite good at I believe and respectful of in my sessions. It does require emotional energy though and no matter home much we lover our work there is a finite supply. It is really important that as a sex worker I manage that energy and I monitor myself so that I can give a consistent experience that is up to the standards that I set for myself.

Now there are lots of things that can impact our physical and emotional energy – stress (financial, personal etc), lack of sleep – and taking too many bookings too close together.

So as a sex worker my work and life are intimately connected and I have to be very aware of how each part effects the other and allow for that. If you have been reading my website recently then you may know that I am in the process of losing some weight. I realised that my slowly increasing weight was effecting my fitness and energy levels, so I’ve been working for the last three months to make changes to improve – I’m currently about 13kg down with 6kgs to go to get to my target weight and I am happy with how much better I feel in myself and about myself as a result.

All of this is to say that as a sex worker your job is much, much more closely connected to your life outside of the work than most careers. When I’m running my other small business I can generally get up in the morning, regardless of how I feel emotionally or physically and go and do good work for my clients and it won’t matter if I’m sad, or stressed, or happy. I can still do the job just as well.

That isn’t the case with my sex work. With sex work I have to look ahead to my bookings and plan my life around it. I have to ensure that I get enough rest, that I’m not wrapped up in anything too emotional, or drained by too much work close together. It takes real effort and attention.

Being older helps with that. I just have more life experience, including a lot of experience running my own businesses, managing my time and energy. Not everyone has that experience and I think that is a major risk, especially for younger workers who may be very enthusiastic, but can fall into the trap of just doing too much – in their sex work and/or in their personal life.

Commitment to the work also matters here. I see sex work as a career – not something that I do for fun, or “on the side”, or out of necessity. I love my work, I want to continue doing it for as long as women and couples want to book me. So I am invested in being able to maintain my mental and physical health and to avoid burnout.

From a client’s perspective burnout has some obvious consequences – paying for an experience that isn’t as enjoyable and satisfying as you would expect, losing “the magic” that is part of what clients come to see us for, and in the worst case where burnout causes a worker to quit the industry entirely, they lose a connection that my be very important and built over many years entirely. Which can be a very traumatic experience, akin to losing a conventional relationship even.

So as a sex worker I need to keep in mind the commitment that I make to my clients, especially those whom I see regularly for a long time. While I may not have an explicit commitment beyond individual sessions, I do feel that I need to respect that connection that I have and the investment that my clients make in me. To that end while I have never considered retiring from sex work, if I did then I would probably try to give my clients at least a year – or years – warning so that they weren’t suddenly abandoned.

Lastly, when sex workers get burnout and can’t give clients the experience that they want, or leave the industry entirely that is detrimental to the reputation of the industry as a whole. The woman who prompted me to write this post – having lost the services of two sex workers in a row has serious reservations about engaging with another sex worker as she just expects that anyone she meets now will in due course quit the industry and leave her to find a new provider once again.

That is bad for everyone (clients and workers) long term and while I understand the role that sex work plays socially (allowing people with few skills or options to earn good money where they otherwise might not be able to), there is a benefit to our industry becoming more stable and “professional”. I don’t expect that to change, but I will do my part to provide a long term reliable service to anyone who wants to see me.

John

2 thoughts on “Sex work and burnout

  1. Excellent post, John. Thank you for addressing this important, but seemingly neglected, issue. I think that drawing attention to the fact that while Sex Work is absolutely ┬┤real┬┤ work, there is something quite unique about the dynamic that is highlighted in situations such as the one you have discussed. B

    • Hi Brianna, you are quite right. Sex work is real work, but it’s also unique and as a worker you have to respect that and look after yourself, for everyone’s benefit.

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